A prince consort is the husband of a queen regnant who is not himself a king in his own right. In recognition of his status, a prince consort may be given a formal title, such as prince or prince consort, with prince being the most common. However, most monarchies do not have formal rules on the styling of princes consort, thus they may have no special title. Few monarchies use the title of king consort for the same role.
Usage in Europe
As a title rather than description, "Prince Consort" is unique to Prince Albert. The title was awarded to him in 1857 by his wife, Queen Victoria. Before Prince Albert, there had only been five English, Scottish, or British male consorts, being the husbands of Mary I of England, Queen Anne, and Mary, Queen of Scots (Elizabeth I having died without marrying and Mary II's husband William III having been explicitly made king in his own right). The titles of these five varied widely. Mary I of England's husband Philip was declared king jure uxoris and given powers equal to his wife, but Queen Anne's husband Prince George of Denmark received no British titles other than the Dukedom of Cumberland (his princely title being Danish). Meanwhile, the official title of the three husbands of Mary, Queen of Scots was never fully resolved. At least one (Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley), was declared king consort, and both he and his predecessor Francis II of France sought recognition as king jure uxoris, but the title and powers of the consort were a constant issue during Mary's reign and remained unresolved when Mary was captured and executed. The only male consort since Prince Albert's death, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (the late consort of Elizabeth II) was made a peer and later a Prince of the United Kingdom but was not titled as Prince Consort.
The distinction between the positions of prince consort and king is important in the British patriarchal hierarchical system. Within this hierarchy, the king holds a higher position in the British social hierarchy. Thus, more power is attributed to him. In cases where the hereditary monarch is female, such as Queen Victoria, who ascended to the throne in 1837, power is attributed to the queen, for she holds the highest position in the absence of a king.
Clarence House has announced that when Charles, Prince of Wales becomes monarch of the United Kingdom, his second wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall would have the title of Princess Consort rather than Queen; however the Duchess of Cornwall will automatically take on the title and style pertaining to the queen consort unless legislation is passed to the contrary, and as of summer 2018 all references to "princess consort" have been removed by both Buckingham Palace and Clarence House on their respective websites. In 2020, however, Clarence House confirmed that plans for Camilla to adopt the style of Princess Consort remain unchanged.
In 2005, Prince Henrik, the spouse of Margrethe II of Denmark, was awarded the title. In 2016, he announced that upon his retirement, he would revert to the title of prince that he had received at their marriage in 1967.
Usage in imperial China
The imperial Chinese title of fuma (simplified Chinese: 驸马; traditional Chinese: 駙馬; pinyin: fùmǎ), and its Manchu equivalent e'fu (simplified Chinese: 额驸; traditional Chinese: 額駙; pinyin: é'fù), are sometimes translated as "prince consort". This was originally an office of the imperial household, later evolving into the title reserved for husbands of imperial princesses. These princes consort could hold other offices and titles in their own right.
A king consort or emperor consort is a rarely used (or disputed) title to describe the husband of a queen regnant. Examples include:
- Mary, Queen of Scots (reigned 1542–1567) married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, the eldest son of the Earl and Countess of Lennox in July 1565. Darnley was a great-grandson of King Henry VII of England and Mary's first cousin, and he was considered to have a strong claim to the Scottish throne. On the evening before their marriage, Mary proclaimed Darnley "King of Scots", a title that she could not legally grant him without the consent of Parliament, but which was never formally challenged. However, this title did not grant him any automatic right of rule or of succession to the throne should Mary die. For that to happen, it was necessary that Mary grant him the Crown Matrimonial of Scotland, which never happened.
- When Queen Mary I of Portugal ascended to the throne in 1777, her husband became "king consort" as Peter III.
- After Queen Mary II of Portugal gave birth to her first son in 1837, her husband – Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha – was made king consort in accordance with the article 90 of the Portuguese Constitutional Charter, as Ferdinand II of Portugal. He retained the style and title of king even after the death of Mary II and her succession by their children Peter V and then Louis I.
- Queen Victoria (reigned 1837–1901) wanted to make her husband Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha "king consort" but the British government refused to introduce a bill allowing it, as Albert was a foreigner. She instead gave him the title of prince consort in 1857.
- When the reigning Isabella II married Francis, Duke of Cádiz, he became King Consort of Spain. Like his wife, he retained the style and title of king even after her abdication in favour of their son, Alphonso XII.
- Consort crown
- Jure uxoris
- Princess consort
- Queen consort
- List of British consorts
- Category:Kings consort
- Klein, P. (2017). Kings & Queens. Library Journal, 142(8), 37-39.
- "Announcement of the marriage of HRH The Prince of Wales and Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles". www.princeofwales.gov.uk. TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. February 10, 2005. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
Mrs Parker Bowles will use the title HRH The Duchess of Cornwall after marriage. It is intended that Mrs Parker Bowles should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne.
- Furness, Hannah (10 March 2018). "Could Camilla become Queen after all? Clarence House quietly removes statement about Duchess of Cornwall's future role". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
- Hudson, Wesley (3 March 2020). "Camilla will not be Queen when Charles becomes King - Clarence House confirms title". Daily Express. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
- "Dronningen i sin nytårstale: Prins Henrik går på pension". Politiken.dk (in Danish). Retrieved 2017-01-29.
- "Denmark's Prince Henrik renounces title as Prince Consort". Xinhuanet, China-Europe. 15 April 2016. Retrieved 2017-09-06.
- Weintraub, Stanley (1997). Albert: Uncrowned King. London: John Murray. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-7195-5756-9.